For our drinking water projects, we select villages that do not have a functioning drinking water system and therefore rely on natural, unprotected springs and surface runoff. Many old water systems in rural areas are broken or insufficient for the population. This is where we come in.
For each village, we look for the optimal sustainable water access that runs without electricity and is easy to maintain so that it can function permanently. First, we have the water quality of the possible water sources tested in certified laboratories. The civil engineer then prepares a construction plan with the water supply engineers, according to the official guidelines of the “Development Committee for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Fund of Nepal”. We submit the construction and cost plan and the authorities issue the building permit.
A drinking water system typically consists of a protected inlet, water pipes, a storage tank, a filter system as well as several water taps. We work with gravity and mechanical water filtration – so there is no need for a pump or special technology that could break down and make the water system susceptible to malfunctions. Our goal is to ensure that the beneficiary community has sufficient clean water year-round and that every family in the village can quickly reach a tap.
As with all Back to Life construction projects, we require the villagers to take the initiative. Each household sends one family member to the construction site. The village community is all the more proud of the completed work and will maintain it in better condition. The water quality is tested again by certified laboratories and approved by the health authority.
The “Water User Group” chosen by the village and trained by us is responsible for maintaining the system. We equip them with the appropriate tools. In addition, the savings groups we have set up will ensure that the operating costs of the water supply can be borne by the village itself in future. This is important in order not to create any dependencies. Our team checks the maintenance work at regular intervals.
A clean and functioning toilet within reach is part of everyday life for us.
But in our project areas in Nepal, going to the toilet is not a matter of course for the people.
The prevailing poverty means that people there cannot afford their own toilets and have to defecate on their doorsteps, in the fields and along the paths.
Many women suffer unnecessary health problems because they can only relieve themselves in the dark, out of shame of being seen doing so.
Clean water and sanitation is a human right, officially recognized as such by the UN General Assembly in 2010. But according to UNICEF, nearly 11 million people in Nepal do not have access to adequate sanitation. That’s a third of the total population. The lack of sanitation facilities for the disposal of human faeces is one of the main causes of water contamination and carries dangerous health consequences such as intestinal worm infestation, cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea.
Hygienic, functioning toilets are also indispensable at schools.
Back to Life supports the construction of gender-segregated student toilets and equips them with running water and sinks for hand washing.
It is important for us to ensure that the number of toilets is adequate for the number of pupils and that girls can practice their menstrual hygiene comfortably.
Many people are not even aware of the connection between hygiene and diseases. It needs education. This is where our work in the field of hygiene comes in. In a variety of age-appropriate and culturally appropriate formats, we educate people about essential hygiene practices and help them form a habit from their newfound knowledge. Our core message is, “Regular handwashing with soap can help keep kids healthy and in school, fight malnutrition, and may even save lives.” (globalhandwashing.org)